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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Final Goodbye.

My friends…it has taken me ALL summer to post this, but I am home from my adventure in Alaska and have time to breathe. When I got home from Africa I hit the ground running. I had two weeks to unpack from Africa, and repack for Alaska (talk about extreme temperature and clothing change!) and visit all the friends and family I could before I was off for another 5 months of work in Alaska. But I am back now from that craziness and I am finally had the time to write and summarize how Africa really impacted and changed my life. 

When I first arrived, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Everything was different…and I mean everything.  But, I saw this as a challenge to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new. And experience new things I did! I experienced things anywhere from showering while on a train across Tanzania, to changing a screaming child’s diaper WHILE the other child is screaming from the bathroom to come wipe her bottom. (TMI I know….but I had to share the extremes with you!) These kinds of lessons brought me to be a better, patient, and grateful person.  I didn’t know really what to expect in moving to a Africa, I was just ready for it all. I am really glad that I came over with that attitude because when things happened or went wrong, or etc…I was like.. “Ok, this is how it is, go with the flow”. I think if I had come with any sort of expectation, I would have gone nuts!

Not only did living in a third world African country challenge me,  but living with a family and their kids was a lesson I was not ready for in the least. I have lived with parts of my family before, but never in this close proximity. I mean we ate, slept, and breathed together all day everyday, and on top of this, there were 2 small children under the age of 3, so you know it got cray cray at times! But it was not the living so close part that got me, but the learning who these people are that got me. I have never lived in the same town as my cousin, and the only place I really saw her was at family reunions…so needless to say we did not really know each other that well. As I lived in her home and helped with her kids, I really got to know her and come to love her in a way that I couldn’t have with out moving over there. I have looked up to Betsy since I was a little kid. She was always the cool, fun, fashionable cousin. I remember thinking, man if only I could be as pretty as Betsy, or as cool as Betsy etc etc…I wanted to BE her. So when I had the chance to live with her and spend some quality time with her and her husband and kids, I was ecstatic. I was so excited to be able to hang out with her! But the thing is, I didn’t really know her, and she didn’t really know me, so the adjustment period for us living took a little longer than expected. Betsy and I are very different people. We have very different personality’s as well as ways of thinking and communicating.  I figured this out as we lived together for 4 months, but boy once we found our groove and figured out how each other worked and thought, we became the best of friends.  I love Betsy dearly and getting to know her has been such a amazing thing. I truly believe we became more than just family, but we became good friends. I find myself wanting to call her and tell her things, or get advice, or say a inside joke to her that we had while I was in Africa, its like she became one of my best girls! We are so different in many ways, but I love that about our friendship. I still look up to her in the same way I did as a child, but I feel blessed that we had the opportunity to become more than just family, but friends.

I loved getting to know this precious little face. I spent a lot of quality time with Ellis and I am so thankful I did. We became just two peas in a pod. She has the most amazing personality and is sharp as a tack! It scares me how smart this child is! We bonded and we fought, laughed and played. It was so hard to say goodbye to that sweet little thing. I cried when she didn’t want me to leave! How could you not!?? 

And then there was Hank he has to be the most chill, easy and calm baby I have ever seen!! Im guessing his sister got all the energy in the family, but this kid was great! He will most likely not remember me, or my time there, but I will never forget. He is going to be such a heart breaker like his daddy. I cant wait to see what kind of amazing man he will turn out to be! If he is anything like his father, I know he will make it in the world and will go far! 

And I cant leave out Coach! He is the family dog..and the coolest dog I have ever seen. I just love that dog!! He was my buddy. He followed me around everywhere I went and would lick me like crazy! I think it was because he truly loved me, or it may have been the fact I dropped crumbs a lot and threw the ball with him. One will never know ;)

Right before I walked out the door for the last time...Tears soon followed.
When I had to say my final goodbye, I balled my eyes out when I left the house and then again sitting at the airport, and then again when I was flying away. I was so overwhelmed with what I had learned about myself, Betsy, kids, living in a third world country that I could not contain my emotions. I hardly ever cry when I leave places, but this was such a incredible time for me, that the water works would just not shut off. To this day I will still go back to that moment when I was taking off in the plane and I couldn’t stop crying…all the good, bad, ugly, fun, sad, memories were overflowing in my tears. This was the hardest place I have ever had to leave.  I still get teary eyed because of what a incredible experience it was for me.

I owe these amazing experiences to Betsy and Joe.  Thank yall for everything you did for me, and even for the things and lessons you had no idea you did and taught me. I learned so much from you two, and I will never ever forget my time with yall. Yall are an amazing couple whom I look up to.

Thanks for the memories.